Gabriele Vanoni speaks about his Suggestioni Festival in Boston

After last year’s focus on Italian composers, the 2011 edition of the Suggestioni Festival aims to bring Italian performers into the spotlight. This year, founder Gabriele Vanoni and Davide Ianni have invited the Ensemble L’arsenale for a residency in Boston. The festival which is sponsored by the General Consulate of Italy in Boston, will conclude on Friday with a concert featuring music by Sciarrino, Costanza, Vaglini, Tadini and Buso. spoke with Gabriele Vanoni about his artistic vision for the festival as well as the world of contemporary music both in Italy and the US.

Gabriele Vanoni, why a festival of Italian contemporary music in Boston?

The Italian music scene has a lot to offer: It is situated between the music cultures of France and Germany in many respects, but it has also its own great and rich tradition. It often presents a fresh and unusual point of view on the contemporary music scene. Unfortunately, the support for music in Italy is not as good as in other countries, as the fact that half (if not more) of the Italian composers currently active, live and work mostly abroad. Therefore, festivals like Suggestioni among others are aiming at making this music known a little more. My hope in the long run is to install a continuous collaboration within the Italian scene and the world of American contemporary music, either at US universities (like this year and last year with Harvard and Boston Universities) and/or with American group such as the Talea Ensemble who were our guests last year.

When you compare the Italian and US scenes for contemporary classical music. What are the differences? Are there any communalities?

It is very hard to condense a question like this into a few sentences. What I see is that the Italian scene lives this funny paradox: it is not really big, it has a few world-renowned festivals (Biennale di Venezia, Milano Musica, etc.) and a few more local institutions, but it is pretty much stylistically confined, and it generally has difficulty to grow and survive, due to the lack of funding and support. The General Consulate of Italy in Boston is a happy exception in this respect. On the other hand, I feel in the US there is definitely more space for artistic development. But if we focus on the “content” level, I sometimes think that the price of a (welcomed) broader range of freedom is maybe a little less use of critical sense. Again, this is a broad generalization, and such a topic should be expanded and discussed in greater detail in order not to be misunderstood.

Has your own experience in the US changed the way you go about composing? If so, how?

Indeed so. I think back to my year in Milan Conservatory with great affection and as an intensive learning experience, but it was at Harvard during my studies with Julian Anderson that my compositional voice started to find its own space and contours, and I hope this work continues today. The lack of “stylistical pressure”, in this case, was indeed a piece of luck!

Gabriele Vanoni was born in Milan in 1980. After a few experiences as a very young composer at Yamaha schools, he started studying music at the Conservatory of Milan, where he graduated in Piano and Composition.

After his studies in Milan, he continued his education with a PhD in Music Composition at Harvard University, where he’s currently enrolled. This experience allowed him to get to know closely the US music scene, where he met and worked with some of the most interesting composers of today, such as Helmut Lachenmann, Julian Anderson, Brian Ferneyhough, Tristan Murail and Chaya Czernowin, his current teacher.

Thanks to this wide range of experiences and encounters, his music has recently spread internationally and has been now largely performed in Europe (Italy, Norway, UK, Russia) and Americas (United States, Canada, Mexico), in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Biennale di Venezia, Moscow Conservatory, Milan State University, NYU, BIT Teatergarasjen in Bergen and Accademia Chigiana di Siena, among many others. Likewise, various soloists and ensembles have now been involved in performing his music, like the Moscow Studio for New Music Ensemble, Mario Caroli, Gustav Kuhn, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne with Lorraine Vaillancourt, Lost Cloud Quartet, Ensemble Fa and Barrie Webb. His music has also been awarded prizes and mentions in local and international competitions (among others: Concorso del Conservatorio di Milano, 3rd Jurgenson Competition, Concorso Filarmonica, Previsioni Musica 2009, Bohemians Prize, IBLA Grand Prize New York).


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